When the first day of school is on the horizon, it can bring about feelings of excitement and enthusiasm, or anxiety and uncertainty.
Some kids might be a little scared because the first day of school is a brand new experience. Other kids may not be nervous, but it will take more than a snap of the fingers to shift their mindset from the carefree days of summer to the responsibilities of the school year.
As a parent, you can help your kids prepare for their first day of school, no matter where they are in their journey. Help them process their thoughts or simply get organized with a few strategies we’ve compiled below.
6 Tips to Prepare Kids for the First Day of School
1. Visit the School
Before the first day, get your kids familiar with the campus and facilities.
Bring your kids to tours or open houses, where they can catch a glimpse of the classrooms, computer lab, and library, and also meet the principal and staff. See if you can visit when school is in session, so your kids can see students in action!
Attend family picnics, summer camps, or festivals. Go to “meet the teacher day” before the school year begins. This day is designed to bring students into their classrooms, so they can get to know their teachers, see where they’ll sit, and meet some classmates.
School visits are a great way to make your kids feel comfortable on their first day!
2. Shop for School Supplies
When kids get to choose their own school supplies, they’ll begin to feel excited about the first day of school.
Each notebook, folder, and writing utensil is brand new, begging to be used – kids generally can’t wait to use them. Plus, when kids take responsibility in choosing their own supplies, it gives them a sense of ownership in the process. They will feel useful in helping you find everything on their list.
Choosing binders and folders with their favorite pictures and colors will make their supplies extra special to them. On the first day of school, when they take out the supplies that they chose, a sense of pride and excitement will give them a bit of fuel to last throughout the day.
3. Discuss Big Transitions
Many students are going through a big transition this summer – moving from one stage of school to another.
Very young students may be starting school for the first time, while others might be transitioning from preschool to elementary school, or from elementary school to middle school. These transitions can make kids a bit nervous, as they bring with them the fear of the unknown.
Help your kids process their thoughts and emotions by talking to them about it well ahead of time. Consider these strategies to help you start:
- Assure your kids that any fears they have are normal.
- For very young kids, read books about entering the level that they are approaching. Talk about how the characters feel, and encourage your kids to talk about their own feelings.
- Ask your kids how they’re feeling. If they open up – great! Go with it. If they don’t, that’s okay, too. Let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready.
- Share your own experiences, and explain what you liked and how you overcame challenges.
- Balance your kids’ fears with things to be excited about.
Having conversations about transitions gives kids the opportunity to work out their emotions and dispel any fears. As a result, they are in a better position to have a positive experience on their first day of school.
4. Plan a Routine
The first day of school launches a busy year of schoolwork, extracurriculars, family time, and (hopefully) a decent amount of sleep.
Sit down with your kids and talk about what the school year will be like and what your kids’ vision of a successful year looks like. Then decide upon a realistic routine to achieve that vision.
For instance, what time should be blocked out every day for studying? Does your home have an area that’s conducive to studying, or would it be helpful to have your kids prepare a place for themselves? Talk to your kids about the best ways to manage their responsibilities and leave enough time for rest and relaxation, too.
5. Go Through the Motions
If your kids are little, you might worry about getting through the morning routine before school.
Prepare for an easy first day of school by practicing the morning routine at least a week in advance. It might sound like overkill, but the practice can go a long way, especially if your little one likes to sleep in. Begin by implementing an earlier bedtime. Set a morning alarm and practice getting dressed, eating breakfast, and driving to school.
By the time the real first day of school rolls around, you and your little one will be pros – and on time!
6. Read, Read, Read
One of the best things you can do to prepare for a successful first day of school – and also for a successful life – is read.
Read aloud, or give kids access to books that they can read independently. Visit the library, and help your kids find books about subjects they love. Connecting your kids’ natural interests and curiosities to books is an effective strategy in combating “summer learning loss,” exercising your kids’ brains and imagination, and ensuring that they’re ready to learn on the first day of school.
Getting Ready for the First Day of School
Overall, kids are going to follow your lead.
When you talk about the first day of school, set the tone with calm positivity. If you lead with that and implement one or more of the strategies mentioned above, your kids will be off to a great start!